I Heart My City: Igor’s Antwerp

23 May

MAS is the first new museum built in Antwerp in over a century (Photograph by Lunaman, Flickr)

Igor Daems grew up in the suburbs of Antwerp, Belgium, and finally moved to the city center about four years ago. Since then, he’s become an avid fan of the city he thinks often, and unfairly, gets overlooked in favor of Bruges and Brussels. In addition to doing marketing work for Antwerp Tourism & Convention, Igor is a Spotter for Spotted by Locals –  a company that produces city guides and iPhone apps with up-to-date tips by handpicked locals (like Igor) in 41 cities around Europe. Here are Igor’s favorite things about his beloved Antwerp.

Antwerp is My City

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is the top floor of the MAS museum for a superb view on the city. And it’s free.

Paters Vaetje serves more than 100 kinds of Belgian beer. (Photograph by Igor Daems)

When I crave for a Belgian beer I always go to Paters Vaetje – they serve more than 200 kinds.

To escape from the tourists I head to the north side, where there are only locals.

If I want to buy vinyl records I go to Lange Koepoortstraat.

For complete quiet, I can hide away at a secret spot on the bank of the river Scheldt.

If you come to my city, get your picture taken with Tom Barman, singer of dEUS and proud resident of Antwerp.

If you have to order one thing off the menu from Brasserie Appelmans, it has to be the stew made with De Koninck, the typical Antwerp beer.

Locals know to skip the main shopping street, Meir, on Saturday and check out the surrounding streets instead.

What’s the secret behind Belgian-style fries? They’re twice-baked. (Photograph by Erik Jaeger, Flickr)

When I’m feeling cash-strapped I go to a Turkish bakery for some very cheap, but excellent, pizza.

For a huge splurge I go to Smulpaep for the one and only Belgian (not French!) fries.

Photo ops in my city include the left bank for an excellent view of the skyline, and the best vantage points are ‘t Zuid (South), famous for culture and art, and ‘t Eilandje to see the new stunning MAS museum.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Rubens, the painter.

The most random thing about my city is that it has people of 147 nationalities living in it.

My city has the best-singing men.

Enter Shikari on stage at Trix. (Photograph by Vince Kmeron, Flickr)

My city has the most fashionable women.

In my city, an active day outdoors involves biking around all day and barbecuing in Park Spoor Noord.

My city’s best museum is M HKA for contemporary art.

My favorite jogging/walking route is along the river, into the port.

For a night of dancing, go to Café d’Anvers. Or, for live music, check out Trix.

Any frituur (place to buy Belgian fries) is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Week Up.

You can tell a lot about my city from having a seat inside Antwerp’s Central Train Station (the 4th most beautiful in the world according to Newsweek) to admire the view.

Antwerp train station at night. (Photograph by Rob Dew, My Shot)

You can tell if someone is from my city if he tells you Dutch beer is crap.

In the spring you should enjoy the first sunshine on Groenplaats.

In the summer you should attend as much open-air performances as you can.

In the fall you should go to the Middelheim open-air museum to watch the leaves falling down on the beautiful statues.

In the winter you should hop from one coffee bar to the other.

Zum = Yum. (Photograph by Igor Daems)

A hidden gem in my city is the small but excellent Mayer Van den Bergh museum.

For a great breakfast joint try Zum.

Don’t miss the Laundry Day festival in September.

Just outside my city, you can visit Mechelen and Lier, two historical towns.

The best way to see my city is on foot.

Igor fell in love with the Cathedral of Our Lady. You might, too. (Photograph by Igor Daems)

If my city were a pet it would be a butterfly, small but so nice to look at.

If I didn’t live in a city, I’d live at the seaside.

The best book about my city is Het Dwaallicht by Willem Elsschot.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is ”I Feel Alive In The City” by Zita Swoon.

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss the zoo – one of the oldest in Europe.

Falling in love with a church could only happen in my city.

My city should be featured on your cover or website because I want people to know that there is more to Belgium than Brussels and Bruges.

I Heart My City: Igor’s Antwerp


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